A Boy Named Joshua

My small farm gives me all the company I need...

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“My small farm gives me all the company I need…”

Haeleigh Bayle, Editor

The spring morning gave way to chirping birds, blooming flowers, and a soft glow of the sun I hadn’t seen in weeks. I walked outside with my coffee cup in hand and sat down on the porch swing. It creaked beneath me, but it’s aged wood held fast. I swung myself back and forth gently, listening to the cows in the pasture to my right. It was good to see the sun and hear the cows lowing after such a violent thunderstorm last night. The earth still smelled of the recent storms, but it was no match for the rising sun. My small farm gives me all the company I need, with my chickens, ducks, my barn cats, my good ole dog Biscuit, the cows, my one lone horse, my stray rabbits who are more like pets, and the small birds I feed every morning. I set my coffee cup down and swept my long chocolate brown hair into a low bun. I slipped my pink slippers on and walked back inside my ancient farmhouse and into the mudroom. I slipped on my chore clothes, overalls with my muck boots, and headed outside.

I had a slab of hay in my hand and was about to toss it to my ten-year-old mare, Juniper, when I heard faint crying. I turned my head towards the noise and quietly set Juniper’s hay into her stall. The crying was coming from the loft in the barn, and I could immediately tell it was the cry of a small child. My heart was beating irregularly fast as I climbed up the steep steps to the loft. When I reached the platform I saw a small boy sitting behind a bale of hay in the corner. Just his little head showed above the hay bale. I stood utterly motionless for a moment, not exactly sure what to say to him.

“Hey little guy, are you alright?” I asked him in a soft voice. He whipped around, revealing tear streams down his dirty face. He had a long scar down the right side of his face, but his bright blueish-green eyes drew me away from the scar. I held out my hand, not sure what else to do. “Are you hungry? I have some eggs we could scramble and pancakes we could make.” He sat for a moment before slowly rising, and without saying a single word, he took my hand, and I led him down the stairs.

I continued babbling as we walked to the house, as I wasn’t really sure what else to say to him. “What’re you doing out here all alone?” To that I got a shoulder shrug. “Are ya hungry?” A head nod. “Did you just get in my barn last night?” Another head nod. I decided to just talk about the house, and how it had been passed down for generations, and how it was finally my turn to live here. I felt a stabbing pain in my heart, the loneliness I felt every day amplified by the small boy who looked around the house in hopes of finding another child to meet. “Sorry little man, it’s just me and the animals.” He looked at me in a way that asked, “But why?”

“Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to find a husband or have any kids. But I’m still young, twenty-two to be exact, so I’ll find someone.” I was more or less reassuring myself I would find someone, not this small boy who looked exhausted and hungry. “Let’s get some breakfast.”

The little boy sat at the table in silence while I scrambled some eggs and got pancakes cooking on my old stove. With the smell of eggs cooking, Biscuit, my elderly dog, ambled down the stairs and into the kitchen, sniffing around the little boy and happily gave him kisses. The little boy smiled and patted Biscuit’s head, which put Biscuit into a flurry of tail wags and more slobbery kisses. I set out some bacon from last night’s dinner and watched as he gobbled it up…and of course threw some to Biscuit. When he finished with the bacon, he downed the glass of milk I had placed at his seat. “Can you please at least tell me your name?” I asked with a tentative smile, petting Biscuit as she sat at my feet.

He looked at me a long moment before saying, “Joshua.”

I patted his little arm, “Nice to meet you Joshua. I’m Eleanora. Now how old are you?”

“Six,” he responded. I decided to stop questioning him until he ate. I set the plate of pancakes and eggs in front of him and he demolished almost all of it. He then asked me a question for a change. “Can I go take a nap?”

“Sure,” I hesitated, “…you can, um, sleep on the couch. I’ll grab you a blanket.”

While little Joshua slept I grabbed my phone and called the local police station and carefully explained my situation. I asked if there was any report of a missing child, and they said no. I even added, “Joshua is sleeping right now and does not show any intention of leaving. I think you can mosey on down, there’s no rush.”

Of course I was talking to Blake, whom I had been friends with for a while, so he knew the little boy would be safe here for a few hours. “Eleanora, it is my job as both your friend and an officer to tell you a few things. One, do not get attached. Two, be careful: though he may be a little boy, we don’t know why he is out here all alone. And three, if a car pulls up claiming to know him, call us first. He may be in danger at home or something.”

“Thanks, Blake, see you in a little bit.”

“Bye, Eleanora.”

I hung up the phone and went back out to the kitchen to clean up breakfast. After I had finished that I went back into the living room and pulled out my phone, checking through different sites to make sure there wasn’t a missing child report. Nothing. I looked up to find Biscuit curled up beside Joshua, both of them fast asleep.

It was another hour before Joshua awoke, and when he did, he looked much healthier than the way he’d shown up. He got up and carefully walked over to me. He got close to my ear and whispered, “I need to show you something.” His eyes were fearful, and I felt my heart starting to kick it up a notch. I gingerly grabbed his outstretched hand and watched as he led me outside, my mind full of questions. I was both confused and happy to see Joshua more outgoing. He instructed me to stand right where I was and let go of my hand, pacing a few feet away. My face must have been full of silent questions and fear because when he turned to me, he said, “It’s okay. But you might be scared at first. I know I was.” With that he turned around and lifted his little hands and face towards the sky.

Just as I looked up the sky began to change from bright blue and cloudless to dark and stormy. I looked back down at Joshua and saw his face contorted into deep concentration. The sky seemingly opened up and rain poured down, but it wasn’t everywhere, just a small circle around Joshua and I. Then the sky changed again and gentle snowflakes drifted down and onto my head. Slowly the clouds dissipated and Joshua turned around, waiting for my reaction. My breathing was still shallow, as I was terrified yet also amazed. “Wow, that was…interesting.” Joshua’s face turned into a smile.

“You’re not scared?”

“Oh, I am, but I am more amazed than scared, little Joshua.”

I watched as his smile turned bigger and he raced over to give me a hug. “Thanks for not leaving me,” he said. My heart ached for this boy.

“Joshua, there’s something I have to show you, too. It is why I live alone.” His curious face looked at me now with many questions. I let go of him and crouched down, holding out my pointer finger. A small flame, about two inches high, flickered on my pointer finger. Joshua looked amazed, and for once I felt my Gift was appreciated.